A breakdancing/contemporary dance hybrid with Lindy Hop influences? When Solid State presented their new show at Tangente last week, the anticipation of such an eclectic offering was enticing. Whether or not the result was going to be successful, one always expects a Solid State show to be entertaining. They certainly did not disappoint with Take It Back.
The first surprise of the evening comes as soon as the lights faded in to reveal choreographers JoDee Allen and Helen Simard are accompanied by two men. This is the first time in Solid State’s history that they are joined by men. All four stand still as if subjects in a photograph rather than live people on stage.
One of the male dancers, however, cannot help but move his body to the 1940s Big Band music. The others look at him disapprovingly. What Solid State reveals throughout Take It Back about our contemporary attitude towards dancing is pleasantly twisted. What other company would begin a show by reprimanding one of its performers for dancing?
This is pushed even further when the man approaches Simard and asks her “Would you dance with me?” Her reply? A cold “No.” Her motivations for rejecting him become all the more intriguing when her body language then reveals that she wants to be desired by him. She sits on the floor and proceeds to perform as if she was the model for a photo shoot.
However, her body is overcome by spurts of breakdancing. She contorts her body, her head hangs upside down, but she constantly pulls her dress back down in an effort to maintain her femininity. In an interview, Simard said “I don’t want to look like I roll around a floor for a living, but I do.”
Still, her hopes of seduction are crushed when her suitor asks the other woman to dance with him instead. The second woman accepts and he proceeds to dance around her, making her uncomfortable. Then the women dance, but the men cannot keep up with them. All are inattentive to the others’ needs and couple dancing becomes impossible.
While trying to imitate a couple dancing, a man moves into breakdancing by way of Lindy Hop. The other man joins him. It is the first time a couple is successfully dancing together. Their physical strength is impressive.
The women stand by, shyly. They want to join in, but the men ignore them. When the men stand back, the women dance together. Eventually, the men join them by imitating their movements. It becomes somewhat exhilarating when they all finally dance together.
Once they start, nothing can stop them. Men dip women, women dip men, and they dance in every couple combination possible. The most refreshing moment happens when both couples are performing the same dance, but the man in one couple executes the action that the woman in the other couple is performing. With this small gesture, “Solid State” proposes that both men and women would gain much by becoming more versatile.
Since Take It Back continues until Oct. 29, I will not reveal the fitting, but unforeseen, ending. The only thing I will say is to have the guts and allow yourself to enter into Solid State’s discourse.
Take It Back is at Tangente, 840 Cherrier, Sherbrooke Metro.
Student tickets : $13